Illness: The Great Teacher

Last week I was preparing a post on how to simplify your life, how to get down to the essential things. I was feeling tired from my ongoing level of activity, extra effort to complete my patio garden, and overbooked dance/social calendar. But as it happened, the illness that had started on Monday that week became worse and I found myself in the ER. I was diagnosed with pneumonia and admitted to the hospital for three days. I’ve had various minor illnesses, viruses etc but nothing has ever made me that sick.

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Before I knew what had happened, I was swept into that muddy darkness of being a hospital patient in the unfamiliar and uncertain as to what is happening. I’m a nurse, but when it’s happening to you–throw all that out the window. It doesn’t matter what facts I might remember about pneumonia, I felt so bad from my fever and cough that I was counting on my caregivers to provide me with whatever knowledge I needed.

After being in for the first twenty-four hours, I was able to have more clear thoughts. What came to me were all the ways I’d let myself use up all my stores of energy. In the midst of blood draws or vital signs, random memories would come of the past few months, me doing the “one more thing” instead of taking time out. I pushed back further into my life file and saw how I’d been doing this since moving into my townhouse–so anxious to have my place settled and to my liking.

And then came the reality that having pneumonia is not like a virus that’s gone in 3-5 days–which would be the usual illness for me. When the organ that’s impacted by infection is your lungs, everything is impacted because breathing is not an isolated function– a broken part you can repair. Talking to my doctor about how long it would take to get back to my baseline, I saw how this would be a slow healing. There would be no immediate return to my usual life, as there had been in the past. This time, I had to slowly reapproach my life and judge more closely how much energy each activity required.

None of us want to be hit with an illness, a diagnosis that changes our lives either for a short while or forever. But ultimately, we’re not the boss; we’re not in the complete control we’d once assumed. And as we grow older, we see this more in our lives and those around us. Our health moves into Number One priority because it is the only choice we really have. While I was looking at what I needed to do before I became so sick, once that illness occurred I could no longer take a casual look; it was time to just focus on that one thing.

My hope for you today is the same as for myself; Look closely at your life and see what you must do to guard your health for now and the future. Do whatever it takes. Ask your family and friends to help you follow through, to call you out on your overactivity, your pushing too hard. We all need that support because we have blind spots to our own habits.

Blessings on you,


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14 thoughts on “Illness: The Great Teacher

  1. Thank you for your post – as always, you brings so much insight and wisdom to life! The LORD’s blessings on you for a full and speedy recovery!


  2. Connie, when I saw the leader, I dropped. Life gets busy and some how all the Big rocks can’t find a place in the jar. As we tend to pebbles and sand in life we forget to put the rocks in first. Please take some time to adjust, then proceed with caution. Love and Blessings to you, John.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much, MJ,
      Yes, I think a lot of us are trying to learn these lessons. This illness was different for me and demands that I don’t glibly say I’m going to make changes. The quality of our lives—the rest of our lives, depends on it.
      Best to you, MJ


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